Cleveland — There’s no denying the explosion in ecommerce in the past 18 months and retailers along with candy and snack makers have jumped in to quickly open online stores or expand their presence to capture sales from consumers stuck in lockdown or limiting in-store visits.
But ensuring the online experience is memorable in a positive way, particularly once the order is placed, is paramount to long-term success, according to Tobias Buxhoidt, CEO and co-founder of parcelLab GmbH, which specializes in branded communications.
Candy & Snack TODAY recently spoke with Buxhoidt about the importance of post order communications in helping build brand loyalty.
Candy & Snack TODAY: What are the biggest changes online retailers can make to improve the shopping experience?
Buxhoidt: Microsoft reports that 96 percent of consumers worldwide say customer service is an important factor for brand loyalty. While the entire online experience is important, one area retailers should focus on is the shipping experience, from when the purchase ships to delivery updates and returns. According to Forrester Research, Inc., 70 percent of consumers want more frequent order updates. In the confectionery and snack space, when shipping items that are perishable communicating with customers on when to expect delivery ensures these items won’t be sitting out in the sun for an extended period. Communication is key for consumers to have a seamless experience when shopping online.
Candy & Snack TODAY: With so many new opportunities for online shopping, how can tech be leveraged to differentiate experiences?
Buxhoidt: The confectionery and snack industries have historically been relatively low-tech, so utilizing digital tools to enhance the user experience can make a company stand out. Through reassuring a customer their order has shipped to proactively communicating when a gift order has been delivered, brands can use tech to personalize the experience while also harnessing data to reward brand loyalty. Taking the extra step of adding a mobile app as part of the brand strategy can offer faster checkout and unique rewards for repeat customers.
Candy & Snack TODAY: How does post-purchase communication drive long-term loyalty?
Buxhoidt: Post-purchase communication is all about building loyalty with a customer. By personalizing communication based on purchases, including recommendations for new products to try or reminding the shopper of an upcoming event, these small touchpoints build loyalty. For brands, that means more chances to create relationships that last. And for the people that buy from them, it means turning mundane operational processes into moments of joy. With the holiday season fast approaching and online gifting at an all-time high, consumers are going to want to know where their package(s) are in transit, and when each one will arrive to the gift recipient. Proactively communicating as part of an overall operations experience management strategy is especially important when looking at special moments throughout the year such as the holiday gifting season.
Candy & Snack TODAY: What should online retailers be looking at to determine where their process might need improvements?
Buxhoidt: Identify milestones to communicate with customers and send bespoke, informative and branded messages to keep their customers informed. You can use data to prioritize these milestones. When do you receive the most calls? What are the calls relating to? What issues do your customers highlight the most? In understanding this, you can create a communication workflow that better suits the needs of your customers. Once your touchpoints have been planned, consider how to make them as informative as possible. Using an Order Status page will help reduce the inbound call rate because it gives customers specific details about their order, its delivery and any real-time updates as they occur. This will help your customer support team to manage calls, especially during the busy peak season. Customers are confident that any changes will be communicated to them proactively via the Order Status page, so they do not feel the need to call in. Adding relevant, valuable content to each interaction will improve your engagement rate and reduce customer service inquiries.
Candy & Snack TODAY: How do you see branded post-purchase communication translating into additional purchases and greater brand awareness?
Buxhoidt: We’ve seen that most consumers want to know where their package is throughout the shipping journey. Sending a branded email with tracking information along with added content is extremely important to increase brand awareness. Lidl Stiftung & Co. KG, the German international discount retail chain, brings 85 percent of its customers back into its online store via personalized communications and an online order tracking page. Their targeted messaging adds value and leaves a lasting impression on customers, who become confident to reuse Lidl’s online shop. One way to do this, for example, is that when a customer purchases a hot chocolate kit, the transactional email with shipping information could also include a recipe for hot chocolate so the consumer or gift recipient is ready when the package arrives.
Candy & Snack TODAY: What do you see as the biggest improvement to online shopping since the pandemic that correlates to a brand’s success in the ecommerce space?
Buxhoidt: The pandemic has changed a lot about what it means to shop online, but mainly we’ve seen a huge increase in traditionally offline brands’ developing online popularity. One example is Hotel Chocolat. The chocolatier is using parcelLab to help drive greater online loyalty through enhanced post-purchase communications, which are proven to help ease consumers’ worries around delivery. Many retailers were operating in physical stores without much more than a website and had to completely rethink how they sell their product through e commerce channels. Many in the confectionery and snack space have also moved from primarily wholesale to direct-to-consumer; creating brand awareness and owning the customer journey by utilizing data in a useful way has resulted in repeat customers and an increase in brand loyalty.